Wear your helmet, get a ticket

Wear your helmet, get a ticket

It’s going to be a busy summer for the Tewksbury Police Department. The department is hosting two important programs aimed at keeping residents safe while children are out of school.

First, police are looking to partner with parents through the Parents Who Host, Lose the Most campaign. At the same time, officers will also be on the lookout for any child “caught” wearing their bike helmet. That child will receive Lowell Spinner’s baseball tickets.

Parents Who Host, Lose the Most

When it comes to drinking alcohol, parents hosting parties is a big no-no. To help remind them, the Parents Who Host, Lose the Most campaign will be displayed all around Tewksbury and on local highway billboards. This will serve as a reminder of consequences associated with hosting parties with alcohol available to minors.

The Tewksbury Police Department will collaborate with the Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative and local government officials to continuously remind parents and residents that risky behaviors are heightened in the summer months (children do get bored easily). As always, police work toward a goal of a healthy and safe community.

To achieve that goal, law enforcement will continue deploying initiatives that include compliance checks, reverse stings, retail surveillance patrols, shoulder taps, and party patrols to discourage underage drinking. Residents are reminded that it’s illegal to purchase alcohol for anyone under the age of 21.

Through these initiatives, officers will continue to enforce their zero-tolerance policy on minors who attempt to break the law and the businesses and residents who enable their illegal behavior.

“Whether you are under age, plan to sell to a minor, buy alcohol for a minor, or host a party where alcohol is consumed by or available to minors, police will be on the lookout,” the department said in a statement, adding that offenders will be criminally prosecuted and businesses will be referred to the licensing authority for administrative action.

“The department’s mission is to partner with the community to combat this very serious issue,” the statement reads.

It goes on to ask for help in this manner: “Your cooperation with law enforcement’s plight to combat underage drinking could save a life. Any loss of life or injury from underage drinking is one too many. Please help police make sure that the youth of the community are safe.”

Wear your helmet, get a ticket

In an odd move, Tewksbury Police will actually ticket youngsters for WEARING their bike helmet. Don’t worry, though, this isn’t the kind of ticket one has to pay to make go away. Instead, it’s a ticket to a Lowell Spinners baseball game.

“It’s really a good way to encourage helmet use in town,” said Tewksbury Police Department Community Service Officer Jennie Welch, who oversees the program.

It’s illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to ride a bicycle (or be on a bicycle) without a helmet, on a public way or bike path. This program encourages youngsters to ride with a helmet, but isn’t open only to them (it’s just not meant for parents, though parents do tend to wear helmets, Welch acknowledged).

Data shows how a bike helmet can reduce the risk of serious head and brain injury by as much as 90 percent. Sadly, 89 percent of people killed in bicycle crashes with motor vehicles weren’t wearing a helmet.

According to mass.gov, there were 11 bicyclist fatalities in 2017, one more than the reported 10 in 2016. Research regarding bicyclist deaths from 2013-2017 shows that bicyclist fatalities occur nearly 70 percent of the time between the hours of 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. Males are disproportionately represented with over 80 percent of all bicyclist fatalities. By age, those under 16 years of age were responsible for 12 percent of all bicyclist fatalities in the same period.

To encourage young people to protect themselves, the police department will attempt to “catch” anyone wearing a helmet. If caught, the rider will receive two tickets to a Lowell Spinners home game. Welch said anyone without a helmet would be provided one by the department.

The Community Service Officer said the program would end when they either ran out of tickets or until the youngsters went back to school. She believed there were about 100 tickets left. The Spinners’ season is over at the end of August/early September.

When asked how it’s going, Welch said the program has been a “big hit” with the children. It started back in 2012 and has led to an increase in young people wearing a bike helmet.

Even though statistics show it’s actually older riders more likely to crash without wearing a helmet, Tewksbury Police want to start promoting bicycle safety at a young age.

“The Tewksbury Police Department would like to thank its local business partners for supporting its efforts to keep the children of Tewksbury safe. This is only one of many events in which the Tewksbury Police Department will be working with its partners to make Tewksbury a safer pedestrian and biking community.”

For more information or to get involved, please contact Community Service Officer Jennie Welch (978)851-7373, EXT 230.

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